Lady Dragons set to host 7th annual Tip-Off Tournament

Warren junior Teagan Paris and her teammates open the season tonight against Salamanca.

A year after welcoming perennial New York powers Southwestern and Panama, the 7th annual Lady Dragon Tip-Off Tournament will feature a trio of PIAA state playoff teams.

In addition to the host, and defending Tip-Off Tournament champions, Lady Dragons, regining District 10 3A champion Mercyhurst Prep and District 10 2A runner-up Maplewood will be part of the field when the tournament tips off this afternoon. Salamanca (NY) rounds out the four team bracket this season.

The Lakers and Tigers open the varsity action tonight. Mercyhurst is coming off a 20-6 season which saw the Lakers roll through the regular season with only two losses to District 10 opponents (Villa Maria and Harbor Creek) and a late-season win against Warren (43-40). The Lakers continued their dominance to a D-10 title, winning every district playoff game by at least 20 points. They bowed out in the first round of the state playoffs with a heartbreaking 55-54 loss to Beaver.

Mercyhurst’s strength was a balanced scoring attack and the Lakers return their top two scorers from last year. Seniors Miranda Bly and Emily Thompson each averaged more than nine points per contest. Fellow senior Kaitlyn Pasko will have to fill some of the void left by Jillian Spano and Megan Pizarny who graduated last year.

The Tigers lost only three seniors from a team that went 17-10 a year ago and reached the D-10 title game. Unfortunately, one of those three was leading scorer Isabelle Snyder (15.2 ppg). Maplewood will have senior Jordan Roser back and will look for sophomore Izzy Eimer and junior Kaysea Thomas to increase their scoring output.

Salamanca enters its second year under head coach Bryelle Wallin and the Warriors are looking to improve on a 2-19 record. They’re led by senior Kylee Dowdy, who nearly averaged a double-double last season (10.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game), and hope to get a boost from Randolph transfer Nizhoni Kennedy (7.6 points and 5 rebound per game). The Warriors opened their season Wednesday and suffered a 52-36 setback at Clymer (NY).

The Lady Dragons are coming off a stellar 2018-19 campaign that started with a thrilling championship game win in this tournament and culminated with a District 10 championship. Warren will get its first look at life without the program’s all-time leading scorer tonight. Margo Loutzenhiser and her 1,620 points are at Gannon now, but the Lady Dragons have a solid core returning. Sophomores Riley Childress and Emma Ruhlman announced their presence at this tournament a year ago and became an integral part of the district title run.

They’ll be expected to take on even bigger roles this season, along with senior Taylor Childress and junior Teagan Paris. Warren also has a strong group of freshmen who could log extended minutes as the season wears on.

The tournament begins with junior varsity at 3:30 p.m. with Warren hosting Salamanca (NY). Mercyhurst Prep and Maplewood JVs follow at 5 p.m. Varsity action begins at 6:30 p.m. with the Lakers and Tigers. Warren and Salamanca (NY) varsity tips at 8 p.m.